Manual What Writers Need to Know About Book Contracts

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They can turn it down, and you've fulfilled the obligation to offer them your next book. If they publish adult science books, offer them a picture book about fairies. If they publish picture books, offer them a humorous book on quantum theory. They have been taken on board by my publisher, who has been only too happy to welcome amendments.

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The Option Clause in a Book Contract: A Trap for the Unwary Author

Leave comment. Please enter a name. Please enter an email address. Please enter email address in correct format. Your URL:. Please enter some comments. Enter security code:. In This Section. My Writing Income. Before you sign SoA Blog. Subsidiary rights: first serial, second serial, reprint, British Commonwealth, foreign, translation, motion picture, TV, dramatic, audiocassette, electronic, multimedia, commercial and merchandising -- reserved or granted.

Grants: Authors of textbooks and nonfiction may require grant funds to cover extra expenses, such as travel, research assistance or special artwork. If illustrations, photos, charts or tables are required, when must Author submit? Who pays for these? Royalty deductions may be proposed for: deep discounts, special sales, mail order, premium sales, small print runs.

Construction Contract Writer

Author warrants no libel or invasion of privacy make Publisher judge and assume responsibility — generally more familiar with applicable law than the Author. If Author indemnifies, it hires lawyer and controls defense -- no settlement without Author's consent. Limit withholding so Author can use royalties to pay defense costs ; require interest-bearing account, state when and how money released. Insurance protection: Request publisher to extend publisher's coverage to Author as additional insured.

What is the deductible? No destruction of overstock without notice to Author, who may obtain by paying shipping costs. If third party, limit chargeback of costs definitely not deductible from monies due Author under other agreements. Author's right to terminate if no copies available for sale in the U. A publisher may look for the right to edit your work and you must look very closely at the wording here to make sure that the publisher can only edit your work for punctuation and layout, but not make substantive edits. However, the publisher will want the right to edit the work to avoid any legal risks.


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You need to look closely at the wording here to ensure that any changes made are reasonable and within parameters set out by custom and practice. Ideally you would like approval of any substantial changes that editors or copyeditors make to your work. You have the right to a credit for your work and you should ensure that the wording and placement of the credit is satisfactory to you.

On delivery of the manuscript, the publisher may want the right to reject it.

Book Publishing Contracts: Checklist of Deal Terms

You should try and secure the right to submit a revised text within a certain time frame, that they may then agree to publish. Whether or not you have received a royalty for this work in advance of publication, any delay on publication that is substantial will not normally benefit you. You should ensure that the agreement contains a deadline for publication and a clause allowing you to terminate the agreement and keep your advance if the publisher fails to bring out the book on time. To avoid allowing your publisher to maintain control of your book forever, you should ensure that the agreement contains wording that permits your book to be declared out-of-print.

The rights that were transferred to the publisher under this agreement should then revert to you if the publisher pays you less than a certain amount of royalties each year.

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You should be entitled to retain all advances and royalties paid to date. You are also trying to pin the publisher down here in terms of what they are going to do to promote the book, because in essence that is the purpose of the publisher. They have a publicity machine and promotional tools that will help you to maximise the revenue for the book. If your publishing agreement is silent or insubstantial on what your publisher is going to do to promote your book, that should be a cause of concern for you.

Marketing of your book is essential for your book to reach as wide an audience as possible.


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If the publishing agreement does not contain affirmative obligations in respect of marketing your work, it will be very difficult for you to force the publisher to do this after the agreement has been signed. You will need to be aware that any advance paid to you at this stage is an advance on royalties and therefore will be set off against any future royalty income that the book earns.

An agreement should set out a scale of royalties depending on how many books are sold, this is often referred to as a step-up rate for royalties. For example, the agreement may set a royalty rate for the first 50, books sold which should increase for between 50, and , books sold and increase again for any books sold over , The increased royalty reflects the fact that the publisher is getting a better return on their investment because their costs will have been absorbed by then. In addition, you should receive a higher level of royalty for ebooks to reflect the lower production costs incurred by the publisher in publishing an ebook.

Book Publishing Contracts

Make sure your royalties meet industry standards, be clear about whether they are a percentage of the gross or net receipts received by the publisher. Net receipts have certain deductions such as expenses taken off the top and you need to be very careful around the wording of the definition or net or gross receipts. You should also try to negotiate wording that prevents the royalty from being dramatically reduced by special deals that can allow the publisher to offer substantial discounts at your expense.

There is a lot of focus on advances in book publishing agreements.